Comox Valley driver celebrates the power of positivity with ‘Lei Day’

May 6, 2021
Transit System: Comox Valley
Comox Valley driver John Ludlow
John Ludlow is one of the happiest people you could ever meet, and it’s not an exaggeration to state that his move from Winnipeg to the Comox Valley in 2019 has literally changed the community for the better. Yesterday, John’s first annual ‘Lei Day’ took place, resulting in a lot of smiles and random acts of kindness throughout the region.
In his first weeks in the valley back in 2019, John was staying at a local campsite while searching for a permanent home. Little did he know that buying some flowers to beautify his campsite would lead to a growing campaign to spread joy and happiness to everyone he came in contact with.
“I bought a hanging basket, and dangled it from the passenger seat visor of my ’66 Mustang’s sunroof on the drive back to the site so it wouldn’t fall over,” recalled John Ludlow. “All the way home people were yelling at me that they loved my air freshener. I thought okay, I’m leaving the flowers with the car and everywhere I go, they’ll go with me.”

John – who also goes by JD or the Flowerman – has been driving for PWT in the Comox Valley Regional Transit System since last November, and before that he drove school buses for First Student Canada. He’s a tremendous story teller, and one can’t help but feel the positivity and joy he exudes.

And the flower air freshener was just the start. Ludlow decided to “kick it up a notch”, and use his car to advertise. He made some decals for every side of his Mustang that stated:
If you choose to take these flowers, you need more joy. Please pay it forward. And if you wish to meet more like-minded people like myself, please join my Facebook group.

And that’s how the Comox Valley Social Experiment came to be. The group is fast approaching 500 members, and a scroll through the posts will show you that John is definitely not alone in his quest for spreading this special brand of happiness. This page is proof that paying it forward is the best kind of contagious.  For some people that would have been enough, but John Ludlow didn’t rest on his success. And that takes us back to Lei Day.

“I started wearing a Hawaiian lei shortly after starting the Facebook group, and I wear it everywhere I go, as an outward expression of joy and happiness and a good conversation starter. I wanted to celebrate my success in battling mental health challenges, and I chose May 5th as Lei Day because since that date in 2017 I haven’t had a moment of anxiety or depression in my life.”
Yesterday his Facebook group all wore leis and were tasked with committing at least one random act of kindness – no matter how large or small. BC Transit and PWT allowed John to wear a lei on his route, so he could talk it up to everyone that hopped on board. Ludlow also knew that there may be a scarcity of leis in the Comox Valley, so he turned that into a fundraising campaign last weekend.

“I decided to go to Goose Spit Park on Sunday and hand-craft real flower leis. I sold them for $20 each, and all profits went to the Comox Valley Transition Society, which deals with homelessness and mental health. I was fortunate enough to have a team of volunteers with me. We had musical guests and made sure we were Covid-friendly with everyone keeping their distance and wearing masks. We ended up raising more than $500 from the day, and I’m still making them. I was just floored with the response.”

When John was told that this happens to be Mental Health Awareness Week in Canada, he had no idea. That just adds to the sincerity of his movement, which has made the Comox Valley a richer place in so many ways. Along with the Facebook group, you can visit John’s website for more information on his work, to sign up for his newsletter, or to just put a smile on your face. From everyone at BC Transit, happy Lei Day, John!   
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